FrightFest 2011 Review: A Lonely Place To Die

A Lonely Place To Die is set to close this year’s Film4 FrightFest. It’s always a pleasure when a thriller or horror film starts off down one path but then takes all sorts of diversions along the way. The premise of this film is fairly straightforward.  A group of climbers are out on a, er, climbing trip in Scotland. They happen upon a young girl buried in a box in the ground. They resolve to rescue her and take her to the authorities as soon as possible – only the kidnappers have their sights on them and come after them.

From here all sorts of nasty business is conducted. But it’s all done so with a good level of realism; very little is played as anything less than brutal in this film. In fact the mid section (which you could divide into two itself) is probably where the film is at its most confident. Basically when the chase is on. The group have to traverse rock and water in order to make their escape – and every rapid and stone that hits them looks like it really hurts.

The two men pursuing them are given an odd introduction that blends threat with black comedy. It’s worth noting that one of them is a Brit actor really on the rise at the moment, Sean Harris; a face to watch. His performance is often threatening, often funny, but contains subtlety from start to finish. He put in such a performance in once scene in last year’s Harry Brown as a drug dealer. Next we should see him taking to outer space in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.

Melissa George (Triangle) puts on a brave face as our lead and again proves herself not quite the Hollywood glamour girl she may have chosen to go onto become. It’s to her credit that she picks these odd little thrillers in which to take her talent.

The film though isn’t without faults. It does start rather cold and stiffly as our team of backpackers are introduced. It feels very much like a British film-maker trying to make their characters talk like normal people, yet it comes off as a possible first draft that needed fleshing out properly by actors, not by archetypical dialogue.

The film’s end has trouble as well – whilst having some powerful moments (the meeting between Harris and Karl Roden in particular is a gem), it doesn’t seem to know what note to end on. It therefore becomes a bit bloated and eventually deflated as the extra flab doesn’t give us much pay-off. It conks out like a car that just ran out of petrol.

This is odd as it makes the film’s beginning and ending the weakest elements (the beginning has a truly worthless scene on a cliff edge with three of the characters where we learn nothing and are given a cheap quick thrill).

This is still a worthwhile watch, but whether it’s strong enough to close this year’s FrightFest remains to be seen. But it will at the very least get people talking.

Steven Hurst

Share this!